• Posted by: Luis Beyra
  • Posted On: May 13, 2019
  • Category: Mater, News
Unknown

Two high-school seniors from Miami-Dade County chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars

Two high school seniors from Miami-Dade County were among a select group of 161 students nationwide chosen as 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Nina Ahmadi, a senior at the Design & Architecture Senior High School (DASH) in Miami, and Mercedes F. Ferreira-Dias, a senior at Mater Lakes Academy High School in Miami Gardens, were announced Tuesday as members of the 55th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. They were among seven students in Florida honored for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.

Ahmadi and Ferreira-Dias were selected as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

“Being named a Presidential Scholar is a remarkable honor these students will carry with them throughout their lives,” said Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, in a statement. “They were selected not only for their academic achievements, but for the hours these student leaders devoted to improving their community, fostering values as they helped others. We are elated that Miami-Dade students are among those being recognized nationally.”

The Presidential Scholars program is not a scholarship, but a “recognition program.”

Students chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars receive a free trip to Washington, D.C., in June and receive a medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House. During their visit, the students will be given opportunities to “wrestle with issues that concern America and the world; attend recitals, receptions and ceremonies held in their honor; and visit area museums and monuments,” according to the program’s web page.

More than 5,200 candidates qualified for the 2019 awards, which are determined by performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams or via nominations from Chief State School officers, other organizations or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts competition.

In 2018, three students from Miami-Dade County were selected to be U.S. Presidential Scholars, including two students from New World School of the Arts in Miami and one from DASH.

The recipients are made up of one man and one woman from each state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad — as well as 15 “chosen at-large,” 20 Scholars in the Arts and 20 Scholars in Career and Technical Education.

The 2019 award ceremony will be June 23.

“I want to congratulate this year’s class of Presidential Scholars on their achievement both inside of the classroom and out,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a statement. “Their hard work and commitment to excellence, no matter what challenge they are tackling, will serve them well throughout their lifelong learning journeys. I have no doubt that many of tomorrow’s leaders are among this year’s class of Scholars.”

 
Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article230120979.html#storylink=cpy
Original Article from Miami Herald
 
Mercedes F. Ferreira-Dias

Mercedes F. Ferreira-Dias

 

Social Share:

  • Posted by: Luis Beyra
  • Posted On: May 7, 2019
  • Category: News
IMG_4695

Duke TIP Recognizes Seventh Graders Nationwide for Their Exceptional Academic Abilities

DURHAM, NC —The Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) is honoring academically-talented seventh graders for their exceptional scores on the ACT or SAT. Duke TIP’s 7th Grade Talent Search identifies students across the United States who have scored at or above the 95th percentile on a grade-level achievement test. As part of the program, these academically talented students take above-level college-entrance exams to learn more about their abilities. Duke TIP then hosts annual statewide recognition ceremonies to honor the seventh graders who scored the highest on these ACT or SAT exams. Pinecrest Academy Charter Middle School students that were awarded state recognition include Maria Fernandez, Abigail Hornburg, Rodrigo Medinilla, Elizabeth Moreno-Benitez, Gabriel Serret, Jose Torres, and Kelly Zhao.  These scholars will be honored at the state recognition ceremony held at Florida Atlantic University on Tuesday, May 14th.

“As seventh graders, these students have achieved scores on the ACT or SAT rivaling those of half of all college-bound seniors who took the tests. We are proud of our ceremony honorees, and we appreciate the opportunity to celebrate their achievement and encourage them in their academic potential,” says Shawna Young, executive director of Duke TIP.

Working with host academic institutions, Duke TIP sponsors state ceremonies during the months of May and June. Speakers include university administrators and professors from the host institutions, state and government officials, and accomplished former Duke TIP students.

***

About Duke TIP: The Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving academically talented youth. Duke TIP works with students, families, and educators to support gifted youth in reaching their highest potential. Nearly 3 million students have benefited from TIP programs and resources since 1980. For more information about Duke TIP, please visit www.tip.duke.edu.

IMG_4695

Social Share:

US News & World Report Ranks Academica—Serviced Schools Among Florida’s Best 2019 High Schools

US News & World Report Ranks Academica—Serviced Schools Among Florida’s Best 2019 High Schools

Academica Congratulates International Studies Charter High School for being ranked the top charter high school in Florida

Miami, FL – April 30, 2019– US News & World Report ranked ISCHS as Florida’s best Charter High School for 2019. The International Studies Charter High School (ISCHS) awards dual diplomas — American and European. Students learn in English, Spanish, Italian, and French. It ranked as America’s 11th Best Charter High School and also ranked as Florida’s 4th Best High School. Earning a 100% college-readiness score, ISCHS prepares students for advanced studies. Founded in 2004, ISCHS partners with Spain, Italy and France.

Academica is one of the nation’s most successful charter school service organizations. It supports ISCHS as well as 11 of the Top 100 Best High Schools in Florida. Twenty-five Academica-serviced schools received 2019 Best High School rankings. Of those schools, 23 in Florida, one in Nevada and one in Texas.

Two Doral Academy charter high schools ranked in the Top 50 High Schools in Florida. Two Mater Academy high schools also ranked in the Top 50, as did Somerset Arts Conservatory and Somerset Academy High School in Pembroke Pines.

US News & World Report studied 23,000 public high schools in all 50 states and DC to rank the best. The rankings focus on college readiness using student performance in six categories. They are results on AP and IB exams, math and reading scores, and success with low-income and minority students. Although charter high schools represent 10% of the country’s 26,000 public high schools, they comprise 23% of the top 100 public high schools. Within the top 5 percent of ranked schools, more than 18 percent are charter schools.

Below is a list of Academica serviced charter schools ranked among U.S. 2019 Best High Schools.

Florida
International Studies Charter High School / #4

Little Havana / MDCPS

#11 in Charter High Schools #41 in National Rankings

College Readiness Index Rank #1 (tie for first) Graduation Rate 98%
Total Minority Enrollment 76%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 96%

Doral Performing Arts and Entertainment Academy / #15 Doral / MDCPS

#37 in Charter High Schools #146 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 99%
Total Minority Enrollment 95%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 49%

Doral Academy Charter High School / #22 Doral / MDCPS

#53 in Charter High Schools #208 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 98%
Total Minority Enrollment 93%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 58%

Somerset Arts Conservatory/ #31
Pembroke Pines/ Broward County Public Schools (BCPS)

#97 in Charter High Schools #419 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 100%
Graduation Rate Rank #1 (tie)
Total Minority Enrollment (% of total) 82%

Total Economically Disadvantaged (% of total) 31% Mater Academy Charter High / #35

Hialeah Gardens / MDCPS

#112 in Charter High Schools #541 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 97%
Total Minority Enrollment 99%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 81%

Mater Performing Arts and Entertainment Academy / #37 Hialeah Gardens / MDCPS

#130 in Charter High Schools #669 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 100%
Graduation Rate Rank #1 (tie)
Total Minority Enrollment 98%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 76%

Somerset Academy Charter High / #42 Pembroke Pines / BCPS

#156 in Charter High Schools #820 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 100%
Graduation Rate Rank #1 (tie)
Total Minority Enrollment 89%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 42%

Mater Academy Lakes High School / #51 Miami / MDCPS

#184 in Charter High Schools #1,013 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 99%
Total Minority Enrollment 95%

Total Economically Disadvantaged 74% Somerset Academy Charter High School / #63

Homestead / MDCPS

#199 in Charter High Schools #1,130 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 97%
Total Minority Enrollment 93%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 79%

Mater Academy East Charter High School / #65 Little Havana / MDCPS

#201 in Charter High Schools #1,137 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 93%
Total Minority Enrollment 99%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 91%

City of Hialeah Education Academy / #82 Hialeah / MDCPS

#236 in Charter High Schools #1,555 in National Rankings

Graduation Rate 97%
Total Minority Enrollment 99%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 84%

iMater Preparatory Academy High School

Hialeah / MDCPS

#101 in Florida High Schools #268 in Charter High Schools #1,898 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 90%

Total Minority Enrollment 99%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 25%

Cornerstone Charter Academy High School

Belle Isle/ Orange County Public Schools

#154 in Florida High Schools #360 in Charter High Schools #2,996 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 97%

Total Minority Enrollment 51%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 34%

College Preparatory Academy of the Treasure Coast

Port St. Lucie / St. Lucie County

#161 in Florida High Schools #376 in Charter High Schools #3,179 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 95%

Total Minority Enrollment 54%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 43%

Pinecrest Preparatory Academy Charter High School

Miami / MDCPS

#173 in Florida High Schools #392 in Charter High Schools #3,448 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 95%

Total Minority Enrollment 95%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 23%

Somerset Academy Canyons High School

Boynton Beach / Palm Beach County Public Schools

#245 in Florida High Schools #499 in Charter High Schools

#5,293 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 96%
Total Minority Enrollment 49%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 8%

Somerset Academy Charter High School Miramar Campus

Miramar / BCPS

#263 in Florida High Schools #531 in Charter High Schools #5,751 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 97%

Total Minority Enrollment 99%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 69%

Somerset Academy Charter High School South Homestead

Homestead / MDCPS

#337 in Florida High Schools #664 in Charter High Schools #8,101 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 97%

Total Minority Enrollment 89%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 82%

Ben Gamla Preparatory Charter High School

Hollywood / BCPS

#343 in Florida High Schools #673 in Charter High Schools #8,268 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 83%

Total Minority Enrollment 49%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 61%

Somerset Preparatory Academy Charter High at North Lauderdale

North Lauderdale / BCPS

#415 in Florida High Schools #817 in Charter High Schools #10,645 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 97%

Total Minority Enrollment 96%

Total Economically Disadvantaged 90%

SLAM – Sports Leadership of Miami Charter High School

Little Havana / MDCPS

#448 in Florida High Schools #910 in Charter High Schools #11,978 in National Rankings Graduation Rate 96%

Total Minority Enrollment 96%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 86%

Key West Collegiate School / Somerset Island Preparatory

Key West / Monroe County Public School

#12,935-17,245 in National Rankings #468-555 in Florida High Schools #972-1,760 in Charter High Schools

Mater Virtual Academy Charter Middle/High School

Virtual School

#12,935-17,245 in National Rankings #468-555 in Florida High Schools #972-1,760 in Charter High Schools

Nevada
Somerset Academy of Las Vegas
North Las Vegas
#66 in Nevada High Schools
#820 in Charter High Schools
#10,673 in National Rankings
Total Minority Enrollment 51%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 17%

Texas
Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering San Antonio
#623 in Texas High Schools
#625 in Charter High Schools
#7,546 in National Rankings
Total Minority Enrollment 93%
Total Economically Disadvantaged 69%

 

Social Share:

Pinecrest Four Corners_LOGO_WEB-02 copy

Pinecrest Academy, Inc. announces new school in Central Florida

Pinecrest Academy, Inc. is pleased to announce its expansion in Lake County Central Florida.  Pinecrest Four Corners, a charter school serving grades Kindergarten through 8, will be located at 1100 S US Highway 27, Clermont, FL 34714 in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. 

Pinecrest Four Corners will be staffed with highly-qualified, state certified teachers. Cutting-edge learning tools will be used in all classrooms.  The elementary school will provide before and after care and will have strong parent-teacher partnerships.  The middle school will offer a college preparatory curriculum in technology-rich classrooms.  In order to ensure we are creating well-rounded students, the school will also have an array of clubs and sports for students to participate in.

We are currently accepting interest forms online from students who will be entering K-8th grade for the 2019-2020 school year.  Interested families should visit pinecrestfourcorners.com to apply. For more information, you can email info@pinecrestfourcorners.com.

Pinecrest Academy, Inc. is a high performing charter school network that operates 13 schools in Florida and 4 schools in Nevada. With nearly two decades of successful implementation of high quality academic programs, the organization thrives to raise student achievement. Pinecrest schools have consistently proven their ability to teach ALL students as is evidenced by data showing that Pinecrest schools are narrowing the achievement gap for disadvantaged student populations.

For more information visit http://www.pinecrestacademyschools.org .

Pinecrest Academy Four Corners will be supported by Academica. Academica is one of the nation’s longest-serving and most successful charter school service and support organizations working with over 180 successful charter schools across the US.

INTEREST FORM: http://www.pinecrestfourcorners.com/

Social Share:

  • Posted by: Luis Beyra
  • Posted On: Mar 26, 2019
  • Category: News
splash1

Charter school students continue to outperform peers in traditional public schools

Students in Florida charter schools are outperforming their peers in traditional schools in nearly every category according to the Florida Department of Education’s annual charter school performance report, released today.

The analysis used 2017-18 school year data to examine the average performance of charter school students and traditional public school students in terms of grade level achievement, learning gains and achievement gap. Data included in the report, based on more than 4.2 million test scores, was derived from student performance on the Florida Standards Assessments for English language arts and mathematics as well as statewide assessments for science and social studies.

The achievement section of the report measured the percentage of students who scored a Level 3 or above on the statewide assessment. A score of 3 is considered passing or at grade level. In 63 of 77 comparisons, students enrolled in charter schools demonstrated higher rates of grade level performance.

The achievement gap section measured the gap between white students and African-American students and white students and Hispanic students in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The achievement gap was lower for charter school students in 19 of 22 comparisons.

The learning gains section of the report compared the percentage of students in charter schools making learning gains against the percentage of students in traditional public schools making learning gains by subject, grade level and subgroup. The percentage of students making learning gains was higher in charter schools in 88 of 96 comparisons.

The report further showed that in comparisons of achievement and learning gains, students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch in charter schools performed better than low-income students in district-managed schools in 93 percent of the comparisons.

Overall performance as measured by school grades showed that 47 percent of graded charter schools earned As compared to 28 percent of graded traditional schools.

The annual report is a coordinated effort between the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice and the Bureau of Evaluation and Reporting in the Division of Accountability, Research and Measurement.

Charter school enrollment has more than doubled over the last decade and represents more than 10 percent of public school enrollment in Florida. Charter schools served more than 295,000 students in the 2017-18 school year.

Original Article at:https://www.redefinedonline.org/2019/03/charter-school-students-continue-to-outperform-peers-in-traditional-public-schools/

 

Social Share:

  • Posted by: Luis Beyra
  • Posted On: Mar 20, 2019
  • Category: News, School News
Unknown-32

Cornerstone Charter Academy took home 2 Honorable Mentions and 2 Awards of Merit at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival!!

“We are pleased to announce that CCA took home 2 Honorable Mentions and 2 Awards of Merit at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival!!  Cornerstone Charter Upper Academy was competing against thousands of student art pieces from more than 50 different K-12 schools across Central Florida! We are incredibly proud of these talented students and of all those who participated. Thank you to everyone who made it out to the event!

Honorable Mentions:

Norah Crotty, acrylic paint, 7th grade
Lyla Schuppner, oil paint and collage, 12th grade

Awards of Merit:

Izabellah Chan, linocut printmaking, 11th grade
Jonell Hernandez, photomontage, 12th grade

Come see these award winning art pieces and hundreds more on display next week at the CCA Art Show on March 28! It’s going to be a fun event you won’t want to miss!”

https://www.cornerstonecharter.com

Social Share:

  • Posted by: Luis Beyra
  • Posted On: Mar 18, 2019
  • Category: Mater, News
mater

Mater Academy High School and iMater High School were awarded scholarships to attend the Spirit of America Youth Leadership Program

The past four days, our selected juniors from Mater Academy High School and iMater High School were awarded scholarships to attend the Spirit of America Youth Leadership Program at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. 

When the students arrived to the SOAYLP in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, they participated in the program that consisted of workshops and classroom activities with dynamic speakers from business, government, and academia, along with the lectures and workshops. They had the chance to attend tours of Valley Forge National Historical Park, Colonial Philadelphia and even dine with an Amish family in Lancaster.

It was a great experience for all and they did a great job representing their schools! 

mater

 

Social Share:

  • Posted by: Luis Beyra
  • Posted On: Mar 6, 2019
  • Category: News
c

Five Mater Schools’ SGA Attend FASC

by Mrs. Melissa Gil

The Florida Association of Student Councils hosts a state level convention every year in which schools from different districts get the chance to build upon student leadership, school activities, networking, and project competitions. SGA goes beyond just organizing and running events, members also have to document and evaluate these events hosted at their schools. Miami Dade County Public Schools are a part of district 6 for FASC.

When it comes to the competition part of FASC, medallion council and project books are submitted at convention. Medallion books are judged by how many school events/meetings occur at your school in comparison of your school population. Schools as a result to their medallion council books can be ranked gold, silver, or bronze. As for the project books, it is one project that get documented by a specific category. There are ten categories in FASC such as faculty and staff relations, community service, and school spirit. Books are judged by a rubric that includes evaluation of the information on the project forms and the supporting documents provided. Books can only place first, second, or third per category out of at least 15 books minimum submitted from schools overall.

Mater Academy High, Mater Academy Middle, Mater Lakes Academy High, iMater Middle, and iMater High are all proud members of district 6 in FASC. These schools listed are the only Academica charter schools to be a part of FASC in Miami Dade County. The SGA in these schools are led by Mr. Nelson Cartaya and Mrs. Mary Pino (Mater High), Mrs. Nicole Valle (Mater Middle), Mrs. Melissa Gil and Ms. Ana Sanchez (Mater Lakes Academy), Ms. Elisa Aviles (iMater High), and Ms. Denise Garcia (iMater Middle). In addition, as a Mater Family, these schools participated in the FASC convention of March 1st -3rd in Boca Raton Community High School along with 94 other schools. It was three days filled with workshops, meetings, activities, and competition. The Mater schools are proud to list their weekend accomplishments at FASC:

We as advisors are proud of our students who work hard to manage events at their schools, but also compete at a state level and win in their prospective categories. This weekend at FASC was definitely a Mater Family Takeover and we couldn’t be more content in working together for the greater good of our students who strive to be better leaders. We are always leading by example. As Nelson Cartaya says, “We teach our kids to be the example, not the exception.”

Mater Academy High School: Nelson Cartaya FASC Advisor of the Year, Medallion Council Silver Rank, District 6 Treasurer School

Mater Academy High School: Nelson Cartaya FASC Advisor of the Year, Medallion Council Silver Rank, District 6 Treasurer School

iMater Middle School: 2nd Place Membership Motivation, 3rd Place School Spirit, 3rd Place School Service

iMater Middle School: 2nd Place Membership Motivation, 3rd Place School Spirit, 3rd Place School Service

All Five Mater Schools with their trophies.

All Five Mater Schools with their trophies.

Mater Academy Middle School: 2nd Place Faculty and Staff Relations, 2nd Place Health and Safety

Mater Academy Middle School: 2nd Place Faculty and Staff Relations, 2nd Place Health and Safety

Mater Lakes Academy High School: Medallion Council Gold Rank, 2nd Place Fundraising, 3rd Place Faculty and Staff Relations, 3rd Place Community Service, District 6 Secretary School

Mater Lakes Academy High School: Medallion Council Gold Rank, 2nd Place Fundraising, 3rd Place Faculty and Staff Relations, 3rd Place Community Service, District 6 Secretary School

iMater High School: Medallion Council Gold Rank

iMater High School: Medallion Council Gold Rank

SGA Advisors: (left to right) Bottom row: Ms. Elisa Aviles and Ms. Denise Garcia (iMater Academy High and Middle School) Top Row: Mrs. Nicole Valle (Mater Academy Middle), Mr. Nelson Cartaya (Mater Academy High), Ms. Ana Sanchez, and Mrs. Melissa Gil (Mater Lakes Academy High)

SGA Advisors: (left to right) Bottom row: Ms. Elisa Aviles and Ms. Denise Garcia (iMater Academy High and Middle School) Top Row: Mrs. Nicole Valle (Mater Academy Middle), Mr. Nelson Cartaya (Mater Academy High), Ms. Ana Sanchez, and Mrs. Melissa Gil (Mater Lakes Academy High)

Social Share:

Cornerstone Charter Academy Receives National Recognition - Named a distinguished school for STEM and career learning program

Cornerstone Charter Academy Receives National Recognition – Named a distinguished school for STEM and career learning program

 

For Immediate Release                                                           
February 28, 2019   

Media Contact:
Dr. Renee Pancoast
Principal
rpancoast@cornerstonecharter.com    407-608-7171
Cornerstone Charter Academy Receives National Recognition                                            for Commitment to Empowering Students

Named a distinguished school for STEM and career learning program

Belle Isle, FL –Cornerstone Charter Academy announced today that it has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished School for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through PLTW GatewayTM. It is one of just 148 middle schools across the U.S. to receive this honor. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that serves millions of PreK-12 students and teachers in schools across the U.S.

The PLTW Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, CCA had to meet the following criteria during the 2017-18 school year:

  • Offer at least one PLTW Gateway unit at each grade level;
  • Have at least 50 percent of the student body participating;
  • Have 25 percent of students advancing to high school participate in two or more units during their middle school tenure.

Through PLTW programs, students develop STEM knowledge as well as in-demand, transportable skills that they will use both in school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they take. PLTW Gateway empowers students to lead their own discovery and uncover a range of paths and possibilities they can look forward to in high school and beyond.

“It is a great honor to recognize Cornerstone Charter Academy for their commitment to students,” said Vince Bertram, President and CEO of PLTW. “They are a model for what school should look like, and they should be very proud of ensuring students have the knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful on any career path they choose.”

CCA is part of a community of PreK-12 schools, colleges and universities, and corporate and philanthropic partners across the country united around a passion for providing students with inspiring, engaging, and empowering learning opportunities. For more information about PLTW’s recognition program, visit pltw.org/our-programs/program-recognition.

For more information on Cornerstone Charter Academy’s PLTW Gateway program or to set up a school visit, contact Ms. LuCinda Coder at:  lcoder@cornerstonecharter.com

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for PreK-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. Approximately 11,500 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs. For more information on Project Lead The Way, visit pltw.org.

 

Cornerstone Charter Academy Receives National Recognition  - Named a distinguished school for STEM and career learning program

Cornerstone Charter Academy Receives National Recognition – Named a distinguished school for STEM and career learning program

 

Cornerstone Charter Academy Receives National Recognition  - Named a distinguished school for STEM and career learning program

Cornerstone Charter Academy Receives National Recognition – Named a distinguished school for STEM and career learning program

 

 

Social Share:

  • Posted by: Luis Beyra
  • Posted On: Feb 15, 2019
  • Category: News, School
somerset-jefferson2

Charter takeover helped students ‘have a chance at life’

redefinED – February 13, 2019
TALLAHASSEE — Three students from rural, impoverished Jefferson County on Tuesday testified before Florida’s House Education Committee about dramatic improvements at their schools since 2017, when the local district relinquished control of its traditional public schools to a charter school operator.
 
Prior to the historic transformation, Jefferson County had been among the state’s lowest-performing districts for about a decade. More than half its high school students had been retained in a grade at least twice. In 2016, just 7 percent of its middle schoolers scored on grade level on state math assessments compared to 26 percent in the next-lowest performing district.
 
In 2017, the Jefferson County School Board voted unanimously to turn over management of its lone primary and secondary schools to Somerset Academy, based in South Florida. Although the state is home to dozens of charters that were converted from traditional public schools, never before had converted charters comprised an entire school system.
 
Ayana Bradley, a junior at the Jefferson County K-12 high school, told lawmakers Tuesday that before turnaround efforts, students were unmotivated, as many teachers dressed unprofessionally and seemed more interested in gossiping with students than educating them.
 
“There was no one there for us,” she said. “We had to learn to push ourselves, and some kids didn’t know how to do that. Sometimes they just wouldn’t come to school. Somerset taught us we have a chance at life.”
 
She added: “We’re not just numbers, we actually mean something. Now, people believe in us – that we can become better and mean something to someone.”
 
Ayana is now taking dual enrollment classes through Doral College. She wants to attend the University of Central Florida and become a nurse.
 
The schools’ turnaround was assisted by Academica, a charter school service and support organization in Miami, and Doral College President Doug Rodriguez, who has acted as a consultant since the charter takeover.
 
“The district had consistently low performance and it was under oversight of the Department of Education,” Rodriguez said. “The district had shrunk in size. There should be about 1,500 students in the district. In 2016-17, there were about 715 students. It’s grown as the school became more successful.”
 
Rodriguez described Jefferson County as a community with many needs. All students in the district are on a free and reduced-price meal program, and many families in the area do not have their own transportation.
 
Changes that spurred improvement included hiring new teachers, while retaining many with 25 or more years of experience; philanthropic and logistical support from Academica; and an investment of $5.1 million from Somerset Academy – money that came from loans and grants, Rodriguez said.
 
“And we changed the teachers’ pay scale,” he said. “We made them among the highest-paid teachers in the state, while they had previously been among the lowest.”
 
Principal Cory Oliver said major renovations to the schools’ campus have been instrumental in the district’s turnaround.
 
Students said they wanted a culinary arts program, so a state-of-the-art cooking lab was added, as were eight new portable classrooms, an arts building, a new band room, and a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) lab.
 
The district has begun seeing academic gains.
 
In 2017-18, Jefferson County’s passing rate jumped 60 percent in math for grades 3-8. No other district in Florida came close to that rate of improvement. The previous year, Jefferson County was the state’s lowest-performing district in that category.
 
In 2017-18, six Jefferson County high school students were taking dual enrollment classes; this year, the number has grown to nearly 40. And this year, for the first time in a decade, two seniors have been accepted to the University of Florida.
 
Jamal Washington, an eighth-grader, told legislators that before the charter takeover, students didn’t have educators they could talk to about personal issues.
 
“There was no one to share our feeling or emotions with,” said Jamal, who wants to be an air-traffic controller. “Since Somerset came, everybody’s trying to get on track and graduate with their class. I want everybody to graduate with me.”
 
Freshman Alexis Arnold, an aspiring pediatrician, agreed.
 
“It’s now a contest of who gets the highest grades,” she said. “Everybody’s paying attention in class and nobody’s skipping anymore. You don’t see as many fights.”
 
Responding to a question from committee vice chair Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, Oliver said the decision to allow a charter school organization to take over the district wasn’t overwhelmingly popular.
 
“The school district is the No. 1 employer in the county,” he said. “That community bridge is something we’ll continue to work on. But we’re building a huge network of support, so people can see the changes and growth.”
 
Committee chairwoman Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mt. Dora, said she was moved by the students’ testimony.
 
“They are why we make sacrifices to be here,” she said. “This is the fruit of the good consequences of good policies that have been passed.”
 
Original article
 
somerset-jefferson2

Social Share:

  • ACADEMICA
  • 1
  • Pinecrest
  • Somerset Academy Silver Palms
  • Somerset Academy Miramar Campus
  • Somerset Academy Davie